Early opening of Mettur dam favours banana cultivators

A banana plantation on the outskirts in Tiruchi..

A banana plantation on the outskirts in Tiruchi.. | Photo Credit: M. Srinath

Banana cultivators are upbeat over the early release of water from Mettur dam for irrigation in delta districts.

Banana is generally raised on about 5,900 hectares in the district. Cultivation of the 10-month crop, particularly the nendran variety, is initiated during April-May and the planting has almost been completed. Tapping the groundwater used to be the only way out for the farmers to irrigate the banana fields until the opening of the dam.

Nearly 70% of the farmers invariably depend on their counterparts who own pump sets to irrigate the crop. Several times, the dam was opened about two to three months behind the scheduled date of June 12 for irrigation. They would also buy water till the dam was opened.

According to a rough estimate, it costs ₹10,000 to buy water to irrigate one acre of banana crop in a season. The expenditure is about 10% of the total cost of raising banana in a season.

The early opening of the dam has apparently changed the dynamics in favour of the banana cultivators as they will not have to depend on the pump sets to irrigate their fields this time around, unless the north-east monsoon becomes a failure. They are all set to irrigate the crop with the Cauvery water routed through canals.

“It is a great relief for us as we are not at the mercy of pump set farmers for irrigating banana fields this year. I hope that it will save ₹10,000 per acre,” says S. Senthil, a banana cultivator, who has raised nendran variety of banana on 4.5 acres of land holding at Panayapuram on the banks of the Cauvery in Tiruchi district.

He says the field requires watering once in five to six days. The flow of water in the Cauvery and supply canals will bolster the moisture content of the soil. It will invariably strengthen the banana plants, thereby resulting in high yield.

P. Vimala, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tiruchi, said that indications were strong for higher area coverage this year. As against 4,500 hectares of normal coverage in Lalgudi, Tiruverumbur and Anthanallur blocks, it was expected that 6,000 to 6,500 hectares would be brought under banana cultivation this year.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 4:37:17 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/early-opening-of-mettur-dam-favours-banana-cultivators/article65457223.ece